We’re old enough to remember the mid-80s, when Hoya Paranoia ruled the national college basketball scene. Back then, the word Georgetown was synonymous with high-flying, athletic but brutish players who liked to get in an opponent’s face and let him smell what he had for breakfast. The Hoyas under John Thompson were intimidating. They were brash. They were physical and they let you know it. In some hushed circles, the Hoyas were even called “thugs.”
Image was part of it. Maybe it was the unique grey t-shirts under their uniforms or the way-before-its-time shaven head of hired gun Michael Graham. Maybe it was the bombastic style of their oversized coach with his towel and militaristic type of discipline. More likely, it was the superior size, skill and power of players like Patrick Ewing, Charles Smith and Reggie Williams. We remember watching teams simply wilt when faced with another patented Georgetown blitzkrieg. A few woofs, a couple of wailing chin-ups on the rim, and you could literally see the fear develop in the eyes of the opponent. John Thompson, of course, enabled and facilitated this mentality – it was gasoline to fuel his “us against them” paradigm, and it worked. The Hoyas went to three title games from 1982-85, and won the whole shebang in 1984.
So it was interesting to hear last week that JT the Elder had admonished his son’s team on his radio show over Georgetown’s current rebounding woes by stating that the Hoyas need more “thugs” on its team. From the AP report:
One of the pitfalls of having a Hall of Fame father with a radio show is that the father-son advice gets dispensed for everyone to hear. Those listening to the John Thompson Show on local station WTEM (DC) this week heard the longtime Georgetown coach suggest that the current team was in need of some “thugs.” Not criminals or classroom bullies. But guys who can go get some rebounds. Thompson gave more or less the same advice when he visited practice this week, imploring the players to adopt the kind of get-the-ball attitude that could solve the rebounding woes that have beset the program under John Thompson III.
Of course, we all know what Thompson meant – that Georgetown needs to get tougher – but it was an interesting use of a loaded word by the CEO of Hoya Paranoia, someone who would have defiantly taken umbrage with that characterization of his team (and used it to his full advantage) a generation ago.
Nevertheless, there is truth to JT2’s complaint. Georgetown currently ranks a paltry 289th nationally in rebound percentage (47.9%), they have been outrebounded in eight of their fourteen contests, and only Greg Monroe (6.3) averages more than five per game. Even the son JT3 admits that it is a problem. To the Hoyas’ credit, in their last two games, they’ve been +5 (Notre Dame) and +11 (Providence) in the rebounding department, so maybe in taking a page from his motivational playbook, father knows best after all.